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Vapor Trails
This morning’s space shuttle launch couldn’t have been nicer. We watched in the darkness of our backyard before sunrise. The sky was totally crisp and cloudless so we were able to watch the shuttle from the building glow at the horizon until it finally disappeared as a tiny ember off in the curve of the earth. Minutes after launch the rumble of the ignition caught up to our address. My husband snapped photos and video with his camera’s fancy lenses, saving the moment for family members who might never get this opportunity in person. As always, I prayed for the astronauts and their families—what a combination of confidence, courage and craziness to blast off into space! 

We have especially enjoyed living close enough to the Kennedy Space Center to see the launches for the past 12 years. Several times before 2001, we appreciated Causeway passes that enabled us to be so close that the lift-offs rumbled through our bodies and the rocket ignition blazed our retinas. Powerful entertainment! And it never has failed to create a sense of wonder and pride at what United States humans have been able to accomplish. 

High Flung Blob

Today I walked the dog just minutes after the launch. As the sun started to light the eastern sky, the vapor trail from the launch started to expand into an interesting cloud column of curly-cues. One high flung blob glowed with a blue/white/pink iridescence. As I walked about our neighborhood, the design in the sky broadened and changed, while it maintained an eery glow. At one point I thought it resembled a giant dove, while the rest of the lower trail resembled a giant white costume boa. Long after the shuttle was thousands of miles away, the vapor trail transformed and mutated in the visible sky. Those neighbors just driving away to work, might not have even given the sky a second thought, or remembered that the shuttle had recently departed. Yet the evidence remained to change the morning for those who cared to notice.

Our family is getting ready to celebrate our fathers’ birthdays at 85 and 95 this year. I am pretty certain that these men have been thinking about what kind of legacy and inheritance they will soon leave behind for their relatives. These are our human vapor trails. As we launch into new phases of life, we leave behind reminders that we have been present. For some of us, our vapor trail really “messes up the sky,” while for others, our trail is a thing of beauty and wonder. However, we do create a trail of consequences, influences, and atmosphere.

Long after I am gone from one address, or job, or friendship, I pray that I have left a memorable and encouraging trail. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,” Psalms 19:14. 

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By Karen Spruill, M.A. Copyright © 2010 by
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